A scholarship can massively impact the decision of where to study for your MBA. With tuition fees reaching in excess of $100,000 for some top US business schools, scholarships are often the only way for students from non-traditional backgrounds to fund their study.
At Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, however, they’ve found a unique solution to the problem of inaccessible tuition fees—offering funding for their entire full-time MBA cohort for the duration of the program.
The ‘Scholarships For All’ initiative was launched in 2016 in the hopes that it would attract students from non-traditional backgrounds to pursue an MBA—and John Wisneski, professor of management and faculty director of the full-time MBA at W. P. Carey, says they’re already noticing a difference.
“Instead of just getting the traditional MBA students who come from corporate America, we’re able to draw on students from a multitude of backgrounds—non-profit, education, the arts,” John says. “And that just adds to the richness of the experience that we can bring to the classroom.”
In the first cohort to benefit from the initiative, 25% of the MBA students at W. P. Carey came from a non-traditional background. John says that the school was specifically looking to attract a new generation of entrepreneurs—those from so-called ‘Generation Z’.
“The students growing up in Gen Z, they’re very conscious of the impact that they make in the world,” John notes. “We really looked for this mentality of a student that wanted to make an impact that was broader than the corporate bottom line.”
A 2017 report by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) surveyed 959 employers worldwide about their recruiting intentions, and found that ‘adaptability’, ‘cross-cultural sensitivity’, and ‘innovation and creativity’ were some of the most sought-after skills in MBA grads—the same skills that are developed in a diverse classroom environment.
Priyanka Mathur, a student from India, (pictured) is currently in her second year of the MBA at W. P. Carey School of Business and was in the second cohort of students to benefit from the ’Scholarships For All’ initiative. She says the offer of a full scholarship made the MBA at W. P. Carey a much more attractive business school option for her.
“A highly ranked MBA program with full scholarship undoubtedly made Arizona State University my first choice,” she says. “And with the scholarship, the program became more competitive and difficult to get in.”
But aside from the attraction of the program itself, has Priyanka seen first-hand any benefits from the scholarship initiative?
She says that the competitiveness of the program has had a positive effect on the quality of education within the classroom.
“I have close friends in other business schools and I know how education debt keeps them worried or limits them to take certain decisions or risks,” she notes. “At W. P. Carey, we can take risks and focus on our education and personal-development by exploring various domains without a financial constraint.”
And it’s not only within the classroom where Priyanka has seen the positive effects of scholarships—she says students are more willing to participate in community actions in the wider context of Arizona State University.
“Most importantly, I believe a Forward Focus scholarship has inculcated a strong ‘giving back’ attitude in the student towards our alma mater and the society at large.”
As vice president of a student’s governance body specifically for international students, Priyanka has been helping make the MBA more attractive to global students. She says this role has helped strengthen her own engagement with the community at the university.
“It’s a great experience. I am part of the global community and I could lead to making it even stronger,” she says.
“At W. P. Carey School of Business,” Priyanka continues, “business is personal. They really look for people who are serious about making a career in business management with a positive impact on future business practices.
“I recommend the W. P. Carey MBA program to anybody who resonates with this vision.”